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£17m ruling for investor's ex-wife

A businessman has been ordered to pay his wealthy ex-wife around £17 million after a family court judge criticised him for being "manipulative".

Judge Sir Peter Singer said property investor Didier Thiry, 53, had shown a "sadistic side to his personality" since his relationship with Alisa Thiry, 50, broke down.

Ms Thiry said Mr Thiry had refused to honour the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement and she had been trying to get back what belonged to her.

The judge said the sum he awarded Ms Thiry could be described as "restorative justice".

Detail of the award emerged in a ruling by the judge following private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Sir Peter said Mr Thiry was a French national who lived in Belgium and Ms Thiry was English.

He said both had been married before.

Ms Thiry - who was previously married to Stephen Marks, founder of high street chain French Connection - pocketed a £37 million divorce settlement a decade ago, said Sir Peter.

In May, Mr Thiry was given a four-month jail term after another judge ruled that he had been in contempt of court.

Ms Thiry complained that Mr Thiry had not complied with an order to provide information in relation to the dispute.

Mr Justice Newton agreed. He had been told that Mr Thiry was in Belgium. He said Mr Thiry would be made to serve the sentence if he travelled to England.

Sir Peter said today that committal order had not been executed.

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